Lawmakers began debate Wednesday on whether Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon should be impeached for allowing married same-sex couples to file joint state tax returns.
Rep. Nick Marshall, a Parkville Republican, told the House Judiciary Committee that an executive order issued by Nixon violates a voter-approved constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.
Because of that, he contends, Nixon should be impeached.
“This is such a blatant and serious violation of Missouri’s constitution and Missouri law that the governor should be removed from office,” he said.
Nixon signed an executive order last year to allowgay and lesbian couples who were legally married in other states
to file joint tax returns with the state. The decision followed the U.S. Supreme Court throwing out parts of the federal gay marriage ban, allowing married same-sex couples to file joint federal returns. Because Missouri’s tax code is tied to the federal tax code, Nixon contends, those couples must be allowed to file jointly at the state level as well.
Two other articles of impeachment against Nixon have also been filed.
One, filed by Rep. Mike Moon, an Ash Grove Republican, argues that Nixon should be removed from office fornot moving quickly enough to call special elections for vacant legislative seats
The other, filed by Rep. Rick Brattin, a Harrisonville Republican, contendsinsufficient punishment of officials involved in a dispute over the handling of concealed-gun permits
means Nixon should be impeached.
But Wednesday’s abbreviated hearingfocused almost entirely on Marshall’s bill
, with several lawmakers wary of whether the governor’s actions warrant impeachment.
“This is just a disagreement over legal theory and legal philosophy,” said Rep. Mike Colona, a St. Louis Democrat. “That shouldn’t be an impeachable offense.”
The courts should be allowed to resolve the legal dispute before legislators move forward, said Rep. Chris Kelly, a Columbia Democrat.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Stanley Cox, a Sedalia Republican, said ultimately it will be up to the committee as a whole to decide whether to move forward on any of the articles of impeachment.
The committee discussed Marshall’s bill for roughly an hour before adjourning. The hearing will reconvene next Wednesday.
If the articles of impeachment should pass the committee and the House, they would go to the Senate, which would appoint a panel of seven judges to decide the case.
Only one Missouri official has successfully been impeached and removed from office in the history of the state. Secretary of State Judith Moriarty was impeached in 1994 following accusations that she backdated election forms filed by her son so it would appear that he didn’t miss a filing deadline.